PhD Scholarship in Rhetorical Argumentation Theory and Journalism

The Department of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen invites applications for a PhD scholarship associated with the Carlsberg funded project “Tell Me the Truth: Fact-Checkers in an Age of Epistemic Instability” (The TMT-project). The scholarship is fully funded for three years and will be filled on September 1, 2022, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The TMT-project investigates questions of truth and facts in political debate and focuses primarily on the practice and role of journalistic fact-checkers. The project understands the establishment of facts as a fundamentally rhetorical practice where people argue for and try to gain support for their way of understanding and conveying the truth. Moreover, the project highlights that this happens in a world where traditional authorities and institutions are severely challenged, while, at the same time, the rise of the internet, social media, algorithms, AI, and machine learning are fundamentally reshaping media and politics, making it possible for new types of actors to gain power in a hybrid media system.

The TMT-project contains four subprojects asking different but related questions about journalistic fact-checking and the development of this practice. The project description sets a clear framework within which all subprojects must be further developed. The subproject for which the PhD fellow is responsible will explore journalistic fact-checking practices in journalistic fact-checking newsroom. In the project description, suggested methods are fieldwork in selected fact-checking news organizations combined with text analysis of the journalistic product. Thus, this study can be regarded as action research that investigates and constructively develops a current practice collaborating with fact-checkers.

A short version of the project description can be found here: The full project description, including a description of all four subprojects, can be forwarded upon request (

The ideal candidate is:

  • An excellent scholar of rhetoric, media studies or journalism studies
  • Experienced in theories relevant for the project, e.g., rhetorical argumentation theory, theories of public controversies and mediated political debate, journalistic news values and roles, and the use of algorithms, AI, and machine learning in a hybrid media system.
  • Experienced in methods for collecting and analyzing material relevant for the project, e.g., fieldwork in news organizations (newsroom studies), action research, protocol analysis, qualitative interviews, and qualitative text analysis.
  • Interested in fact-checking as journalistic practice
  • Expected to independently develop the subproject within the framework of the overall project, including a timeline illustrating the feasibility of the subproject
  • Reflecting on possible international exchange and collaboration during the project period.

The successful candidate will work in close collaboration with the project leader, Associate professor Mette Bengtsson, and the other members of the TMT-project group at the University of Copenhagen. In addition, the successful candidate will be employed at The Section of Rhetoric with the opportunity of being part of The Rhetoric research group or other relevant research groups at the department.

For further information about the position, please contact PI Associate professor Mette Bengtsson (

Admission requirements
Applicants need to hold a two-year Master’s degree (120 ECTS) or the equivalent.

Applicants must send pre-approval of their thesis if it’s not completed at the time of the application deadline.

Applicants with a non-Danish Master’s degree will have their degree assessed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in order to establish that their Master’s degree is equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree. Please read more at the Ministry of Higher Education and Sciences website:

Qualification Requirements
The applicant’s qualifications for the scholarship are evaluated by the applicant’s general educational and academic background. Grade average, thesis grade, language competencies, publications, and other academic activities will be taken into account.

In addition, the proposed PhD project and study plan will be evaluated with regard to originality, choice of theory and method, disciplinary relevance, and prospects for completion within the required timeframe of 36 months.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to reflect on how their project relates to present research activities at the department.

Communication skills
Excellent communication skills in English are essential and applicants must speak and write academic English. The administration may ask applicants to document their proficiency in English at any time in the recruitment process, if considered necessary.

Application requirements
The application must be sent electronically via the link “Apply now” at the bottom of the page in Adobe PDF or Word format. ZIP files may not be used.

Please note that each field in the applicant form can only contain one file of max 20 Mb.

The application must include:

Project abstract
(1,200 characters)

Cover letter

Please include a complete CV including a list of publications, where relevant.  

Diploma and transcript of records 
Applicants must upload the following documentation:

  • A copy of master’s degree diploma (if not available before the application deadline, a pre-approval must be submitted) 
  • A copy of master’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included) 
  • A copy of bachelor’s degree diploma 
  • A copy of bachelor’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included) 

If the master diploma and/or examination records are in another language than English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, please include a translation into either of these languages in your application.

The translation of diplomas/certificates and transcripts must be made or approved by a state-authorized translator and interpreter or at the embassy/a Danish consulate/ or consulate of the country where the original document was issued or where the translation was made. 

The administration encourages applicants from within the EU to enclose a Diploma Supplement. The Diploma Supplement is part of a common European framework for transparency of competencies and qualifications – the EuroPass framework. Find more information at this page:

Chinese applicants are required to enclose a CADGEEC (The China Academic degrees and Graduate Education Evaluation Committee) certificate. Read more at this page:

Please read about admission requirements and application requirements at this page:  

Applicants can amend their application after submission up until the application deadline.

Project description (a further elaboration of the already proposed subproject)

The project description should outline the overall objectives, method and design of the project, as well as a schedule for its implementation.

The project proposal must not exceed 6 standard pages, corresponding to approx. 12,000 characters (including curriculum, title, punctuation, figures, footnotes and references, but excluding bibliography / bibliography). A substantial breach of this will result in the application being excluded from consideration.

Please adhere to the guidelines at this page:

Other relevant material
Statements of consent can be submitted with the application. For example, agreement of access to special archives, agreement of exchange at an international university, or a statement of consent from a potential supervisor/ co-supervisor etc. Do not upload or submit recommendations, publications or your Master thesis.

The recruitment process
After the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants will be notified whether they are shortlisted for assessment or not. An Assessment Committee are appointed, and the selected applicants are notified of the composition of this committee. Each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment which relates to their own application. The assessments are expected to be complete mid May 2022.

Afterwards, a selection of qualified candidates will be invited for an interview. The interviews will be held in May/June. Please be advised that a positive assessment does not necessarily mean that you will be invited for an interview.

For further information on the recruitment process, please see University of Copenhagen’s website:

As a PhD scholar at The Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen, you will be supervised for approximately 180 hours distributed over 6 semesters. In addition to this, you must complete PhD courses of a total approximating 30 ECTS. On completion of the PhD program, you must submit a PhD thesis.  

Read more about the structure of the PhD program and what it means to be enrolled as a PhD scholar at the Faculty of Humanities via this link:

For more information about the PhD School read more at this page:

Terms of employment
PhD scholars at the Faculty of Humanities are appointed under the terms and conditions of the collective agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.

According to the agreement, PhD scholars are obliged – without any additional remuneration – to perform tasks assigned to them corresponding to 840 working hours over the three years. These tasks will primarily be in the form of teaching, dissemination, research or other related academic areas.

Please note that it is normally a precondition for employment that the applicant in question does not already have a PhD degree. Applicants who have already obtained a PhD degree will, as a main rule, be dismissed.   

As an equal opportunity employer, the university invites applications from all interested candidates regardless of gender, age, ethnic origin or religion.

Contact information
For any further questions regarding the recruitment process please contact HR South City, e-mail:, please refer to ID number 211-1031/22-2H #1

Application deadline
Applicants must submit the application electronically no later than 19 April 2022 at 23.59 (11.59 pm) (CEST).